Wisconsin Prairie Enthuisists

Oak_Ridge(Wisconsin)December 20, 2005

Anybody out there from the state of Wisconsin doiing prairie restoration? I am interested in trading of local ecotype seeds/plants, and also information.

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Hi Oak Ridge: I hope you get some responses.
I wanted to acknowledge your thread and also say "good job" to the prairie planting you're doing.
I don't do that but I was proud that last summer I completed my goal of being certified as a "Backyard Wildlife Habitat."

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 4:41PM
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Oak Ridge - You might enjoy this Natural Landscaping Conference in Oshkosh on the 21st of January. I've been to two in the past, and found them to be very good. The registration fee is also very reasonable. The link on the bottom is to a pdf file of the brochure. Here's another link to some more info:

I do have some native plant seeds (collected in WI) for trade. I'm in the NE part of wisconsin (marinette county); depending on where you are located in WI, they may be local ecotype for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Natural Landscaping Conference

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 8:24PM
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northeastwisc: Glad you found us! Long time no talk to--let's set up some trades this spring. We may have some wildflowers for each other--

Merry Christmas!

Constance in Eagle River.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 9:57AM
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Your subject line made me think you were touting the actual Prairie Enthusiasts organization. I'm sure if you got involved in your local chapter if you're not already you'd learn loads and make lots of connections to others doing restoration.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Prairie Enthusiasts

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 12:24PM
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Constance: Yes, sounds good to me. I'm always looking for that unusual plant or two.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2005 at 11:31AM
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woodster(z4 Wi)

I have a restoration on about 10 acres that I have been adding to for about nine years now. The orininal restoration consisted of about 10 plant species. I buy seed and collect seed from other restorations to add plant types each year. Currently I have seed to sow in early spring, but much of my seed is mixed together and labled for wetland, wet meadow, sandy and so on. Then I simply toss the seed into the air on one of the last wet snowfalls. Then on future hikes around the prairie I will spot a plant I seeded, some times years back. This is how Ma Nature does it and she has been doing it for alot longer then I have. I have many grasses flowers and forbs growing out there now. I would also allow seed collection from my prairie. What is it your looking to find?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2006 at 2:05PM
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Hey woodster, congratulations on your restoration. Where in Wisconsin are you Located? I am in Trempealeau County, north of LaCrosse. I also have about 10 acres that I am going to restore. I started last year with a 1 acre diverse planting of about 50 species. My plan is to add about an acre a year, and use the earlier planting as a seed source for later plantings. I am using only species that were native to Trempealeau county (no prairie dock, purple coneflower, etc.). Since I am in the early stages of this, I am still looking for a lot of the forbs, even some of the more common ones. I like the idea of interseeding into your existing prairie to add new species, I plan on doing this also.

Oak Ridge

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 9:25PM
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Just like to introduce myself, my name is Bill, I have a summer home in Seneca just a little north of Prairie on Highway #35.

I have some prairie that I plan to start on this year. I want to include plants that produce feed for the birds in summer and winter. Also interested in plants that attract hummers and butterflies.

I am an avid Gardener and have a small greenhouse but I must admit I have very little knowledge of prairie plants. But after I bought this house it became quite apparent that the birds, snakes, and some rodents only were found in the prairie, with different birds by the house in the woods.

I am going to hollow out the top of a stump, about 12 inches across and 24 inches long. Gonna make a raccoon proof bird bath, thought about making a dirt bath for the birds also.

I plan on getting a giant rake that hooks to my ATV, it puts about 5 furrows 4 inches deep in the clay soil I have. Then I will plant wildflowers, sunflowers, service berries, and what ever seeds I can find.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 2:45PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Here in the Minneapolis area, Hennepin County Parks uses the "only what has been documented as native to the county" idea too. Don't see a problem with it. But don't understand it either.

A bird eats some seed in neighboring McLeod County. It flies over to Hennepin County and poops it out. But wait! That would never happen in nature.

Prevailing winds from McLeod bring seed to Hennepin. But of course, all seed drops out of the sky at the county line.

Seed gets stuck in animal fur. It's a good thing raccoons no where county boundaries are.

Ecosystems are dynamic, not static. This holds true for both the wilderness as well as "people invaded" areas. What grows here this decade or century, may not have been here in the preceding century, and vice versa. Included in this thought are not just the natural progression of ecosystems, but changes due to long droughts, erosion, cyclical animal populations, etc.

If anyone has read any of my pasts posts, and even my trade list for that matter, they would know I am a strong advocate for local genotype preservation. And yes, the more local it is, the better. But "county only" seems a bit drastic.

But there is obviously something I am missing here, since Hennepin Parks (now Tree Rivers Parks) adheres to the county exclusive theory. Any enlightenment would be appreciated.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 2:43PM
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Regarding the "only what has been documented native to the county" idea, I use it loosely. Wisconsin has some great recources for determining the historical native range of plants within the state, and I chose to use county to make my restoration plans easier. My goal is to try and mimic local prairie remnants. I realize that a planted prairie will never by the same as a remnant, but I will try to make it as close as possible. Certain species commonly contained in prairie mixs such as; rosin weed, purple coneflower, blue indigo, rattlesnake master, etc. were not components of the prairie/savanna in my area (or yours either). The native range of these species is hundreds of miles away from me. I chose not to include them in an attempt to hopefully make my restoration look like a prairie remnant someday. The county line thing is artificial to me. For example, compass plant is not listed as historically occuring in my county by several of the resources I used. I know there are wild populations of compass plant on goat prairies just across the Mississippi River from me, and it is listed as occuring in the Wisconsin counties to the immediate south of me. I chose to include it in my restoration, and I think it did historically occur in my county but was missed during the early vegetation surveys.

I am choosing to obtain seeds as close as possible from my site, but will go as far away as neccessary to get them if I beleive the species was a part of the original landscape of my area.

PS My Michigan Lily seeds appear swolen, but I see no roots. I just put them into the refridgerator for a couple of months of cold stratification.

Oak Ridge

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 5:09PM
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woodster(z4 Wi)

I am in Sheboygan county, which of course is all the way across the state from you Oak Ridge. I do have some thoughts for anyone wanting to start a prairie. What ever your reason for planting one it's still a good one. I never met a prairie I didn't like! Look at what you have now and plant ANY prairie plants and you will like it. Ma nature will not allow you to plant wetland plants on dry or acid types on alkaline soil or sun plants in the shade. She will be sure you stick to your zone. Also soil types vary tremendesly so you will be limited to what you can plant. You may get a plant started but the ones strongest in that soil will remain. You can learn what was in you area on the net or your local DNR/land conservation. If you really want to know what was there for sure, there is a way if you have undisturbed wetland near your site. You can get a core sample from the wetland and have it anylized for pollen. There will be a history, and sucession of, plants right there hiding under ground, isn't that cool! All you have to do is go out on the ice chop a hole and pound a pipe down into the bottom sediment. Then push the core out of the pipe. You can study it yourself or find an expert to tell you what was there.

Is it hard to plant a prairie? Look at this way, over countless years natural selection has chosen the strongest plants by their survival. When I started I planted shrubs and evergreens in a patch at the same time. I was afraid the weeds and grasses left around the trees would creep out and take over my prairie. Well guess what, my trees now have prairie growing around them! How did that happen? the seed blows around and the strong survive. It's awsome to find new plant you now you have just from tossing seed it the wind!

To get started you need to try to kill as much vegitation as you can. Till it and spray it a few times, then plant. You will need enough rain to keep your seedlings alive, water it if you can. You can mow over the seedlings the first year if weeds get to high and may shade out your plants. Your plants will be tiny the first year. Then just watch things change every year.
Once started add seed every year and just watch. Remember a prairie is a plant communtity that depend on each other. Your prairie will welcome new plants because the nitch is there for them. It does take time though, I waited more then five years to see some plants bloom.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2006 at 8:59PM
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putzer(z4 WI)

You might want to check out Prairie Moon Nursery in Winona, MN. I just got their catalog and it is packed with information!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 4:38PM
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Prairie Nursery in Westfield also has a decent catalog.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 6:25PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

It depends on how long the land you are restoring was cultivated or what was happening to it in previous years. I certainly wouldn't till or spray chemicals in my yard, because aside from being an organic gardener, my prairie has been creating itself for the past 40+ years. I have lots of original prairie plants because they were in the seed bank, or birds or animals or wind brought them, and my family was never keen on mowing more than they had to. So our 5 acres, which my parents bought about 49 years ago, despite having been planted with fruit trees all over, has prairie all over the place between the fruit trees. Violet monarda and purple asters are my favorites, but I have seen a lot of prairie flowers and grasses, all that grew themselves. I just help a little now.

We also have a few blackhaw trees, which my brother recently pointed out to me are rare here and only in 2 counties in WI. Planted by a bird I suppose. This was all a treeless field when my family bought it, I can tell from old photos. I do sow prairie seeds once in a while without much regard for what is supposed to be here or not. Sure beats having a big lawn and spraying chemicals on it. But if you just leave land that was probably a prairie 150 years ago alone, it will grow a lot of prairie FOR you. We have an awful lots of birds and rabbits and things. I use a stump to hold the birdbath, solves the raccoons knocking the birdbath over all the time problem I had at my last house.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 1:38AM
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